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Montana license plate production affected by aluminum shortage

Montana license plates
Posted at 1:13 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 15:13:44-04

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Corrections announced in a news release on Thursday that due to an aluminum shortage affecting businesses across the country, Montana Correctional Enterprises (MCE) has temporarily changed its production process for Montana license plates because its supply of the material ran out this week.

MCE, located in Deer Lodge, is a subsidiary of the Montana Department of Corrections. Its license plate factory produces about 750,000 license plates per year.

“We knew this might be a possibility because it’s been an issue at other license plate factories throughout the nation,” said MCE Administrator Gayle Butler. “To head off the problem, we have been searching for other sources of aluminum non-stop. Unfortunately, everyone is either in the same situation as us, or understandably, they don’t want to find themselves in the same position, so they don’t want to sell their materials.”

According to Butler, she and her team have been in contact with the Montana Department of Justice’s Motor Vehicle Division on this subject for months, providing updates and suggesting solutions should MCE’s shipment of aluminum not arrive before its supply ran out.

Butler said, “We considered multiple options and the Motor Vehicle Division decided the best short-term solution was to have MCE print the license plates on the same reflective sheeting we use in our regular process. The only difference the consumer will see is the sheeting will not be backed by aluminum. The bottom line is, MCE will continue to fill orders using this temporary solution until the factory receives the materials necessary to resume normal operations.”

Once regular production resumes, the DOJ’s Motor Vehicle Division will work with counties and MCE to ensure everyone who receives a temporary plate will get an aluminum replacement plate, according to Laurie Bakri, administrator of the DOJ’s Motor Vehicle Division.

Click here to learn more about license plates in Montana.